December 2016

In the fall of 2003, I started grad school. One of the more daunting assignments was to contact 15-20 friends, family, and colleagues who knew me well, and ask them to share a story about a time when I was at my best. My task was to create a portrait of my strengths based on the patterns. It was a powerful learning experience, but it felt unbalanced—what about my weaknesses? I started asking people to share times when I was at my worst. Vomit… but it was just as valuable.

As the end of the year approached, I began to feel like something else was missing. I had received a lot of feedback but I hadn’t given any. So over break, I spent a week writing emails to the 100 people who mattered most in my life, telling them what I appreciated most about them. It’s one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done. And it taught me something about what I valued: the two most common themes were generosity and originality.

Looking back, 100 in one week was a little intense. This holiday season, what if we each picked ten people and told them what we appreciate about them?

Now put on your sorting hat for this final newsletter of 2016:

1. How Trust Affects Team Performance
If I could do one thing to help teams, it would be building trust. When people trust each other, they focus on collective goals instead of individual agendas.

2. Have We Been Thinking About Willpower the Wrong Way for 30 Years?
It turns out that willpower probably isn't a limited resource... unless you think it is. The key to persistence? Motivation.

3. How Two Trailblazing Psychologists Turned the World of Decision Science Upside Down
If you're a pessimist you live bad things twice: once when you worry, again when they happen. A riveting excerpt from the new Michael Lewis book on decision biases.

4. The Hogwarts Guide to Company Culture
This is my new favorite way to analyze company cultures: put them in Harry Potter houses.

From My Desk:

5. Where Great Leaders Earn Their Stripes
Military veterans serve their companies as well as their countries. New research shows they're skilled at leading in crisis, less likely to commit fraud, and more likely to stick around.

Finally, I’m giving away 100 signed copies of Originals: if you have a U.S. address, enter here before midnight for a chance to win.

Thanks for reading—see you next year.
Adam Grant, Ph.D.
Wharton professor and author of ORIGINALS and GIVE AND TAKE

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